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Dan Hicks of Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks

It has been over two decades since Dan Hicks was regular guest on "The Tonight Show" and graced the cover of Rolling Stone three times, but his dry wit and acoustic swing have hardly waned. Dan's latest disc, Beatin' the Heat, captures classic Hicks irony and subtle goofiness. Reunited with his former backup band, Dan's latest release is his first with the Hot Licks since 1976. The CD includes a batch of oddball originals such as "I've Got a Capo on My Brain" and the stoner anthem "He Don't Care," as well as remakes of gems like "Hell I'd Go" and "I Scare Myself." After his band's Music Midtown performance, a live recording is in the works.

CL: If you've got a capo on your brain, does that make you C sharp?

Dan Hicks: It makes me C excellently.

Who is the stoner in "He Don't Care"?

It's about anybody really. There was a guy I knew in 1965 that was around when I was writing it, but I didn't really write it about him. I just used my imagination.

Do you draw from real life in your other songs?

I might draw a little bit, but a lot of it is just imagination. If I write, 'He's been up for five whole days,' I mean I might have been up myself once for three days. Who knows.

On "I Don't Want Love," you mention a long list of things you wouldn't give up for love including onion rings and "stuff you have to flambe." What would you give up for love?

See the guy in that song — see I removed myself from that, I say 'the guy in that song' — doesn't want to give up anything for it. He doesn't want to be in love, he just wants to chow down. He didn't want nothin' in the way of that.

You re-recorded the alien abduction song "Hell I'd Go." Have you been abducted?

Me? No. Never even came close. I just got that from my imagination. I had one girl stop me in the audience one time before the show at sound check and she said, 'Have you gone up in a spaceship? 'Cause I have.' She was serious. And you kind of back away a little bit. I didn't want to really pursue that and find out about it. Not really. I'm afraid that if the aliens hear me singing that, and they decide to take me, can I say, 'Hey man, I was kidding. It's just a song. I don't really want to go with you guys.' So many people heard that I'd go, it might be too late. I probably wouldn't go though. I just say I would 'cause I'm a stone liar. It's part of my persona.

You re-made "I Scare Myself." Do you really scare yourself?

Yeah, now 'I Scare Myself' is kind of based on fact. In the '60s, sometimes I could smoke weed, sometimes I couldn't. It would box me in. I would kind of like not even appear with the rest of us, just kind of an awful feeling where I wish I hadn't done that. But some other times, I could do it. I think some friend of mine gave me something to eat, like a hashish brownie, a little bit of taste of something, and I remember leaving their house, driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and thinking of the phrase 'I scare myself.' So later, I put it all into a song, but the phrase occurred to me that I'm scaring myself.

The disc has some cameos from Elvis Costello, Brian Setzer, Bette Midler, Tom Waits and others. Did you try to get other guests who didn't make it on the record?

I did. We asked — I say 'we' 'cause there's a frog in my pocket — I think we asked Bonnie Raitt, and a couple of other people. I don't really remember. I sort of conveniently forgot who they are. We'll check them out next time. We'll see if they ever want me.

You've called your music "pop swing." Is that the best name?

I use different names for that, too. Sometimes I call it folk swing, and acoustic swing. It depends who I'm talking to. I don't really have a set name because usually the name doesn't encompass everything, it's not descriptive enough or maybe it's not accurate. Like maybe it's not pop swing. Maybe Brian Setzer is pop swing, and I'm not. But when I made up that phrase, he wasn't even around. So pop swing has gotten another definition. It was pop-pop to me. So no, I don't really have a name, not yet. But I got your phone number.

Well, let me know when you come up with one.

Yeah, I will.

But you don't have my number. I called you.

Oh, you don't think so. u

-- music@creativeloafing.com

Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks perform on Music Midtown's Ford Focus/Fox5 Stage, Sun., May 6, at 1:15 p.m. For information, visit www.musicmidtown.com or call 770-MIDTOWN.??